Thesis: How has Mary J. Blige earned the title as Queen of R&B?
Well, Mary J. Blige was the homegirl in the game when she first came out. Being under Puff and friends with Lil' Kim, Missy Elliott, and many other dope black hip-hop legends. Mary was that girl then and now and her music told us way more than any picture could as she was the voice of all the sisters... as she progressed through life so did they, all the same feelings and what connected them was her voice. Mary has been in everyone's house and knows everyone's momma. Through her music, she was the second female voice I knew growing up, next to my mother. And this didn't just apply to me but every Black family, including Lebron James as he told Mary about her impact on his childhood as they both appeared on HBO's "The Shop: Uninterrupted."
Mary Through Her Albums
Born Mary Jane Blige on January 11, 1971 in the Bronx, New York. Mary grew up with a mother (Cora Blige) who was a nurse but also an alcoholic. Meanwhile, her father (Thomas Blige) was also a musician who was a jazz bass player who was also a Vietnam veteran suffering with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Her father left Mary’s childhood when she was 4 but would be in and out, all throughout abusing her mother. To escape her father, her mother and her moved to Yonkers public housing where Mary was sexually abused as her mother was away at work. Her escape became church and singing but eventually Mary became a product of her environment because she had dropped out of high school at age 16 and was addicted to sex and drugs.
The Turn of Mary's life!
Mary spent four years sending out her demo that featured an Anita Baker cover and it landed in the hands of Uptown Records CEO Andre Harrell, who also discovered Sean 'Diddy' 'Puff(y)' Combs. She was signed in 1992 and went to work on her first album with producer on the rise, Puff.
Mary was an instant hit and has had a consistent fan base since coming out as an artist in the industry!
Notable features with Mary:
1. Method Man ft. Mary J. Blige – I’ll Be There For You/ You’re All I Need to Get By
2. Mary J. Blige ft. Drake – Mr. Wrong
3. Sam Smith ft. Mary J. Blige – Stay With Me (Duet)
4. George Michael & Mary J. Blige – As (Duet)
5. Mary J. Blige ft. Elton John – Deep Inside
Awards and Recognition
- (1996) I’ll Be There For You/ You’re All I Need To Get By – Best Rap Performance by Duo
- (2003) He Don’t Think I Know – Best Female R&B Vocal Performance
- (2004) Whenever I Say Your Name – Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals
- (2007) Be Without You – Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance
- (2007) The Breakthrough – Best R&B Album
- (2008) Disrespectful – Best R&B Vocal Performance by Duo
- (2008) Never Gonna Break My Faith – Best Gospel Performance
- (2009) Growing Pains – Best Contemporary R&B Album
Black Girls Rock!
- (2009) Icon Award
- (2018) Icon Award
Mary's Musical Influences
Mary's Acting Endeavors
Personal Favorite Mary Hits!
Mary J. Blige is a living icon and a gift to the Black community, specifically to the Black women. Mary is ingrained into R&B and music period as she has a voice like no other, filled with soul, power and raw emotions. To this day, Black people in different generations, no matter how young, has gotten to know Mary simply through her voice and music. Mary has made music that will stand the test of time, as this should be the goal of any musical artist.
Macpherson, Alex. “Mary J Blige on Drugs, Abusive Relationships and Self-Hatred.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 1 Feb. 2008, www.theguardian.com/music/2008/feb/01/urban.
“Mary J. Blige.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 8 Jan. 2020, www.biography.com/musician/mary-j-blige.
“Mary J Blige: Bio.” Mary J Blige | Bio, www.maryjblige.com/bio.
Pelton, Tristan Michael. “Mary J. Blige (1971- ).” Welcome to Blackpast •, 30 Mar. 2019, www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/blige-mary-j-1971/.
Proefrock, Stacia. “Mary J. Blige.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 8 Jan. 2020, www.biography.com/musician/mary-j-blige.
Weekly, Us. “Mary J. Blige Opens Up About Alcoholism, Childhood Molestation.” Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone, 25 June 2018, www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/mary-j-blige-opens-up-about-alcoholism-childhood-molestation-183869/.